Plein Air in the Smokies: Artist Series, Part 1

August 15, 2022

Plein Air in the Smokies blog post header

by Julie Dodd

Plein Air in the Smokies will give you the opportunity to watch 20 nationally acclaimed artists paint outdoors in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and to purchase their original art.

The inaugural event will be held Sept. 26-30, 2022, with the artists painting in various areas of the park, including Cades Cove and Elkmont. A ‘Quick Draw’ competition will be held Saturday morning, Oct. 1, in downtown Maryville and is open to all artists 14 and older.

The week will conclude at Clayton Center for the Arts in Maryville, with judging and a ticketed gala and private art sale on Saturday evening, Oct. 1 (5:30-7:30 p.m.), followed by a public sale on Oct. 2. 

Funds raised from the event will benefit Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Meet the Artists

This blog post introduces five of the invited plein air artists — Suzie Baker, Greg Barnes, Carl Bretzke, Brienne Brown and Krystal Brown. This is the first of four blog posts to introduce the 20 artists.

Suzie Baker painting at Forgotten Coast Plein Air Festival
Suzie Baker paints at Forgotten Coast (Florida) Plein Air 2022. Photo by Leslie Brasher

Suzie Baker

Shenandoah, Texas

What do you enjoy about plein air painting?

I love that a collector of my plein air work, isn’t just buying a painting but they are collecting a connection with the place, piece, and painter.

What is something that those who view your art would be interested in knowing about you?

It is an intention of mine that my work have a spontaneous confidence to it. Like Dolly Parton says, “It cost a lot of money to look this cheap!” Similarly, it takes a lot of planning to look spontaneous. 

Greg Barnes demonstrating painting at Society of Bluffton Artists workshop
Greg Barnes demonstrates painting in plein air during the Society of Bluffton Artists workshop in Bluffton, South Carolina.

Greg Barnes

Charlotte, North Carolina

Why are you excited about participating in Plein Air in the Smokies?

I’m looking forward to discovering and painting in areas that I haven’t ventured to thus far in my plein air travels. I pass through Tennessee often while traveling west but have yet to stop in the Smokies. I also look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones during our time there. 

What is something that those who view your art would be interested in knowing about you?

Since childhood I’ve enjoyed drawing and exploring nature, enough so that I majored in art and minored in biology in college. 

Carl Bretzke
Carl Bretzke paints at the Carmel Plein Air Art Festival in Carmel, California.

Carl Bretzke

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Why are you excited about participating in Plein Air in the Smokies?

I am excited to paint in Plein Air Smokies!  The event is held in a part of the country I have never been but have always wanted to see.  The bonus is that I will be painting with so many of my great friends from the “Plein Air world” that I have gotten to know and admire. 

What is a tip for artists painting in the Quick Draw?

For new participants in a quick paint event…I recommend painting small.  Do a thumbnail sketch before the start so you have a plan.  I spend most of my time working on a good drawing and an underpainting to serve as a value study and that freezes the light effect. Then I add color. It is a good idea to look at your painting in the sunshine at least once before you finish.  It will help you see glaring color mistakes.

Brienne Brown
Brienne Brown says the sights, sounds, and smells of the location provide more excitement and depth to her work.

Brienne Brown

Julian, Pennsylvania

Why are you excited about participating in Plein Air in the Smokies?

I have not yet had the chance to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Therefore, I am excited to be painting en plein air for this inaugural event.

Although it may seem difficult to paint at a new location, I find it useful to have an open and new perspective. Having never been there, I look forward to seeing and painting the beauty of the Smokies with fresh eyes.

[Read Brienne’s tips on painting in the plein air Quick Draw in a previous blog post.]

Krystal Brown painting in Telluride, CO
Krystal Brown paints at the Telluride Plein Air Festival in Telluride, Colorado.

Krystal Brown

Houston area, Texas

Why are you excited about participating in Plein Air in the Smokies?

To be immersed in the natural places of this world is restorative. To create in them is food for the soul and how I connect and know healing. It is delightful to share the beauty of that through the marks I make and allow that to do the same for all those who receive that art.  Our national parks came to be because of painters like me.  

I’m honored to be included in this inaugural event. This will be my first time to experience the beauty of the Smokies. How can I not be excited? To contribute in this way feels like giving back to Mother Earth, singing of her beauty by cherishing it, and sending that love from the Smokies out so others can see and feel it too.  

What is something that those who view your art would be interested in knowing about you?

Oh gee…I am as colorful as my painting. Passionate and focused on whatever I am pursuing and creating, whether it is in fine art, health and well-being modalities, teaching or curating experiences. I like a full plate and I’m a good eater. Ha!

Upcoming blog posts will introduce plein air artists Roger Dale Brown, Jim Carson, Bill Farnsworth, Trey Finney, Beverly Ford Evans, Jake Gaedtke, John Guernsey, Neal Hughes, Charlie Hunter, Christine Lashley, Dan Mondloch, Kathie Odom, Nancy Tankersley, George Van Hook and Dawn Whitelaw.